McLaren Team Principal Andreas Seidl has expressed confidence that the squad can eventually return to winning ways in Formula 1 despite remaining a customer outfit.
McLaren has reunited with Mercedes for 2021, following a six-season split, but in a customer form rather than the works deal that was in place between 1995 and 2009.
McLaren switched to Honda power in 2015, as the Japanese company’s sole partner, but the relationship broke down, with McLaren switching to becoming a Renault customer for 2018.
The squad’s desire to align with Honda was sparked by the then management’s belief that winning was only possible as a works outfit but Seidl reckons Formula 1’s evolution has altered the landscape.
“In the end, the target for us was clear: we wanted to get a championship-winning power unit in the back of our car and the Mercedes one is the only one that is available,” said Seidl.
“I think, compared to the past, in terms of how the regulations are worded, nowadays they ensure that you get exactly the same treatment as the works team gets, and also we have a lot of trust in that regard to Mercedes.
“Independent of that, also the way that the FIA is ensuring that the policing of these regulations – making sure that these regulations are fulfilled – I think the FIA has made a great step in terms of monitoring the different power units and how they get used by the different teams.
“We are definitely convinced that we are in a position, once we are there as a team, that a Mercedes power unit can help us to win races again in the future, definitely.”
Seidl nonetheless cautioned that McLaren cannot simply expect to re-emerge as a front-running force solely through utilising Mercedes’ power units.
McLaren last year claimed two podiums and third place in the Constructors’ Championship – its highest classification since 2012 – having edged a close fight against Racing Point and Renault.
“I think it is in important that we focus on ourselves and we still have a long way to go on the team side,” he said.
“We are happy with the progress we made in the last two years, but at the same time there are still other things we need to get in place first on the restructure side and team side before we battle for race wins again.”
McLaren’s Mercedes-powered MCL35M ran for the first time on Tuesday at Silverstone.